Two military aircraft have killed over 1,000 cows in multiple attacks on Fulani settlements in Keana and Doma local government areas of Nasarawa State.
Fulani leaders and some of the victims told Daily Trust that the attacks were launched between Thursday, June 10 and Sunday, June 13.
Some young Fulani herders tending the cattle sustained injuries while over 500 cows that strayed into neighbouring Benue State have not been recovered yet, victims and witnesses said.
Some sources said hundreds of cows were killed in Giza Development Area of Keana Local Government on the grounds that the military operation was to dislodge bandits from the areas.
It was gathered that Sunday’s operation lasted for three hours and caused tension in the areas as farmers and Fulani herders deserted their homes for fear of being killed.
Our correspondent in Lafia, Nasarawa State, was told that over 1000 cows were killed and several others left wounded.
“The aircraft that carried out the operation were under the command of Operation Whirl Stroke of the Nigerian Air Force Base Makurdi in Benue State,” a source said.
The sources said “some bandits shot at a military aircraft; that was what triggered the bombardment of the entire area. One of the gunships was painted in Nigerian Air Force colours while the other one was painted in army green colour.”
However, some Fulani leaders said the attack was without any provocation.
The acting Chairman of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Nasarawa State, Bala Mohammed Dabo, said hundreds of cows were also killed between Kwatanbala and Akwanaja in Doma LGA.
“In a separate attack on Thursday in Kuduku of Keana LGA, Alhaji Jigawa lost many cows during the siege. We sat with military officials in Nasarawa State. The commander here represented the overall commander in Benue and he promised that he will escalate the matter to the relevant authorities.
“We pleaded that they should halt the unprovoked siege and killing of cows in Nasarawa State. A governor from neighbouring Benue should stop dictating what is happening in Nasarawa. The Fulani are the most hated people in Nigeria because nobody is speaking for us. We are being killed and maimed and our source of livelihood destroyed without provocation.
“The anti-grazing law in Benue State is just an alibi…It is meant to force the Fulani to extinction. The federal government should rise up to the challenge and salvage our people,” he said.
The Fulani leader also denied encroaching into Benue territory where there is an anti-grazing law.
“There is no justification for gunships to come to Nasarawa territory and kill cows. It would have been different if they were killed in Benue,” he said.
Another victim, Ibrahim Adamu from Akwanaja ward in Kwatanbala of Doma LGA, said 40 of his cows were killed by the gunships on Thursday.
“Our cows had come back home from grazing when the aircraft came and killed them around 6pm. We are in real pain and we pray for help from whatever quarter we can get it. The cows are our source of livelihood,” he said.
The Chairman of Coalition of Fulani Youths Groups of Nigeria (CFYGN), Abdulkareem Bayero, said terrible things were happening in Nasarawa State and have not been reported.
“We are calling on the authorities to intervene on the terrorism against the Fulani. There is no anti-grazing law in Nasarawa and therefore no justification for the air force gunships to come and bomb hundreds of cows of innocent Fulani herdsmen.
“The onslaught has been ongoing for long, the latest started on Thursday. Apart from the cows killed in Awe and Keana LGAs, hundreds of others have fled into Benue State and the locals there have rustled them.
“We need the support of the federal government; we want compensation for our people. Peace will continue to elude the country if this kind of lawlessness will continue,” he said.
The youth leader in Keana, who gave his name as Ya’’u, said: “Around 6am on Sunday, two aircraft from the side of Benue launched sporadic attacks and killed our cows.
“When they came for the second time, around 9am, at a time our people were trying to salvage some of the injured cows, they started bombing them again. More than 500 cows are now missing apart from the hundreds killed.
“We are in distress, we need urgent intervention. Government must talk to the military to stop the offensive. We are compelled to suspect that the government at the centre is also complicit because only the federal government has the power to dispatch aircraft to go and bomb a target.
“We are living peacefully in Nasarawa, we don’t have any case with the host communities and we have never been suspected of banditry or kidnapping but our people are now the target of attacks; we are in serious disarray,” he said.
Another victim, Idrissa Zakaria, said he lost over 50 cows, adding that the first attack was launched between Katanbala and Akonoja.
He said the gunships moved to Giza in Keana LGA. “The gunship will come low and shot at the cows; some of the boys tending the cows were also injured.
“We suspect Governor Samuel Ortom of having a hand in this…He is the one who is giving the military resources to attack us,” he said.